Survey Reveals Oregon’s Early Child Care Shortages Resulting in Job Losses for Parents

According to a survey conducted by Portland State University, public funding for early child care options in Oregon has significantly increased in recent years. However, many parents still face limited options and are forced to make career sacrifices. The survey, which involved over 3,000 Oregon parents, highlighted the challenges in finding child care for children aged 5 and below. It was conducted by Portland State’s Early Childhood program and shared with the Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care and the Early Learning Council for future legislative and budgetary considerations.

The survey revealed that more than 40% of parents, including a higher percentage of parents of color, had to quit, not take, or greatly alter their jobs due to difficulties in finding child care in the previous year. Limited availability, incompatible work schedules, and high costs were identified as major obstacles. The situation was particularly challenging for parents of children with learning disabilities, families from non-English speaking backgrounds, and children of color.

The survey also found that children of color and those with disabilities were more likely to be asked to take a break or leave child care centers. In 2022, 10% of all children experienced this, with Black children facing a fourfold increase compared to 2020, making up 16% of cases.

Katherine Pears, a research scientist at the Oregon Social Learning Center, emphasized that families of color were disproportionately affected in terms of employment. She suggested that improving child care access and affordability should involve investing in workforce expansion through training, development, and fair wages for child care staff.

Although the state has allocated over $35 million to increase child care slots through the 2019 Student Success Act, Pears emphasized that funding alone is not enough. Employers need to participate in supporting their staff by ensuring access to quality child care.

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